From humble beginnings

Back, from left, are Glenda Boraine and Barbara McLean. In front are Margaret Dixon, Margaret Humby and Joyce Hollard who all worked at the Community Intervention Centre between 2001 and 2002.

A 24-hour crisis intervention centre for victims of abuse and trauma, officially opened its doors in Milnerton 20 years ago this month.

Now equipped with volunteers and permanent staff, the Community Intervention Centre (CIC), helps hundreds of people a year, but Glenda Boraine remembers its humble beginnings as a comfort room with her as the only volunteer.

Ms Boraine said it all began in 1997 when Milnerton SAPS needed to open a trauma room.

At the time, Ms Boraine was involved with the community police forum and helping police officers with school-outreach projects.

“I agreed to support the initiative and assist in getting it started not knowing what I was getting myself into at the time,” she said.

“It was clear that neither I, nor the police had any expertise in this field.”

However, the local Milnerton Union of Jewish Women was willing to sponsor the initiative, and on August of that year, the first meeting was held, and a steering committee, under Ms Boraine’s leadership, was established.

Then in October 1997 a room was allocated at the Milnerton police station.

“It was there that my experience as a trauma worker began, with no training or experience in the field,” said Ms Boraine.

She got her on-the-job training by accompanying police officers in the field, cutting her “trauma teeth” at the scenes of murders, suicides and family crises.

“I loved every minute of it. I always walked away feeling I achieved something. You realise you can’t really fix their problems, but you can be there to assist and be witness to it.”

At first the police were wary of her, the “interloper”, and were not used to this type of service and how it worked.

“I learnt that the way to a policeman’s heart is definitely through acts of loving kindness (and lots of food!) Finally after a year of loving, supporting and spoiling all hours of the day and night, I was accepted as part of the ‘gang’.”

Ms Boraine agreed to have her personal cellphone used as the comfort room’s 24-hour hotline number.

“I would receive calls at all hours of the day and night. On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. The first cell number 082 821 3447 still exists for the CIC 24-hour service today.”

She said a comfort room at the police station was used for the first time in November 1997 to counsel a hijacking victim and his son.

With help from several individuals and organisations, the comfort room became the CIC in 2001 and Ms Boraine was appointed as its manager.

She retired in 2008 to spend more time with her grandchildren but still keeps in touch with the CIC staff.

“As far as activism goes, I feel strongly that we should focus on the positive – men and women who do not resort to violence and men who stand up against it. I clearly remember a case at CIC years ago when two male friends called me up to find out how to deal with their friend who had been violent with his wife in front of them. They wanted to deal with him themselves and take a stand based on all the information that I gave them.

“I loved that they were going to address it and not leave it and took the trouble to find out all the ramifications and where they could refer him to in order to get help and change his ways.

“People also need to understand that ‘no’ means ‘no’ regardless of what your belief systems are or what you are wearing, doing, drinking, etc.

“To CIC and its staff, I say bravo to have continued for so long. I think they are all doing a wonderful job.”